Monday, March 4, 2013
Nursing Assistants’ (CNA’s) Grief When Patients Die (Research, Video 2:05)
As a hospice volunteer in nursing homes, I worked around certified nursing assistants (CNA's) who often provided front-line patient care. Many were dedicated to doing good jobs, even when conditions were stressful. When nursing homes were understaffed, nursing assistants were glad when I arrived to feed my patients. They usually had good relationships with residents, and their lives were impacted when patients died.
Grief can be complicated, having both positive and negative consequences. For nursing assistants with strong connections with patients, the death of patients can include negative feelings such as depression, or it can include beneficial feelings such as growth in their ability to cope better.
A study reported in Research in Gerontological Nursing that surveyed 380 nursing assistants confirmed that participants experienced both distress and growth. Those who reported greater distress from grief also reported higher levels of burnout. In addition, they reported lower levels of psychological and physical well-being. On the other hand, participants who experienced greater personal growth from their grief reported “significantly lower levels of burnout, higher levels of psychological and physical well-being, and higher levels of job satisfaction.”
Apparently, how nursing assistants respond to grief can be another indicator of their well-being at the job and a possible factor in how quality care is impacted. The following video highlights the intimate bond with patients that many nursing assistants develop that goes far beyond everyday healthcare tasks:
Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.